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Paul Festa is a San Francisco-based writer, filmmaker and violinist. He was born and raised in San Francisco where he currently lives with his husband James Harker.
Festa's essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Daily Beast, Nerve (website), Salon.com, Nerve: The First Ten Years , and three editions of the Cleis Press's annual Best Sex Writing anthology (2008 , 2006  and 2005 ). His essays, fiction and journalism have won numerous awards .
His widely acclaimed  first film Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 minutes) is about the response of 31 artists and writers, including literary critic Harold Bloom, filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell, Scissor Sisters singer Ana Matronic, novelist Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket), and drag performers Justin Bond (Kiki & Herb) and Jackie Beat, to the music of Olivier Messiaen. It won awards at several film festivals.
Festa stars in his second film, The Glitter Emergency, (2010, 20 minutes) with members of the San Francisco Ballet and the Cockettes, opposite the Trannyshack performer Peggy L'Eggs (Matthew Simmons). Recipient of several film festival prizes  and critical acclaim , the silent-film comedy is set to the second half of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, which Festa plays in the film.
Festa wrote, produced and edited, with director Austin Forbord, Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2011), an award-winning  documentary about the growth of theater in the San Francisco Bay Area from the Actor's Workshop in the 1950s through the present day. The film features director Oskar Eustis and actors Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, and Peter Coyote, and is narrated by comedian Marga Gomez.
Festa's documentary Tie It Into My Hand (2013, 80 minutes) screened as a work in progress at ODC Theater in 2012. It captures several dozen artists (including poet Robert Pinsky, pianist Gary Graffman, and actors Alan Cumming, Mink Stole and Peter Coyote) giving Festa a violin lesson as they recount stories from their lives as artists, while also responding to the story of the hand injury that curtailed Festa's musical career.
As a violinist, Festa won the San Francisco Symphony Young Musicians Award, toured Scandinavia as soloist with the California Youth Symphony, studied violin at the Juilliard School from 1990 to 1993, and performed in New York with Albert Fuller's  Helicon Ensemble . Fourteen years after a repetitive strain injury curtailed his musical career, Festa resumed public performances in 2007 as both violinist and actor with the Stephen Pelton Dance Theater  in San Francisco, and the North Bay Shakespeare Company  in Novato, California . At the Boston University Messiaen Project  conference "Messiaen the Theologian," in October 2007, Festa and pianist Luke Berryman gave the U.S. premiere  of Messiaen's recently discovered 1933 Fantaisie for violin and piano (List of compositions by Olivier Messiaen). He gave the New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles premieres  before giving, in October 2008 with pianist Jerome Lowenthal, the Washington, D.C., premiere at the Library of Congress playing the Betts Stradivarius.